Should You Start Volunteering to Help With Grief?

The grieving process often comes with many different emotions, ranging from sadness to anger to guilt to apathy. These emotions ebb and flow with their intensity, and some days will certainly feel more difficult than others. With that, many people find that getting involved with volunteer opportunities provides a sense of support and purpose during grief.

While nothing can truly take away your emotions and needs, a positive volunteer experience can offer you a needed sense of grounding and perspective.

Understanding the Benefits of Volunteering During Grief

Grief can coincide with so many heightened thoughts and emotions. Regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding your loss, life has fundamentally changed. You may feel like you’re lacking motivation or purpose.

Honor Your Loved One

Some people get involved in volunteering after a loved one’s death to honor that person’s needs or values. For example, if you lost someone to cancer, you might decide to donate your time to pay tribute to their life.

You might consider getting involved in any of the following opportunities:

  • Organizing an event: Think about starting a fundraiser or community event that commemorates your loved one’s life.
  • Start a legacy: Some people start annual donation drives or scholarship funds in their loved one’s name.
  • Choose a relevant organization or national charity: Participate in giving back to a cause that would have been meaningful to the person you’re grieving.

Honoring your loved one during your own grief process can be a way to make and cultivate meaning during this time. While this won’t diminish your feelings, it may help you feel more empowered and connected to a greater sense of fulfillment.

Lean Into a Positive Perspective

It’s no secret that volunteering is associated with numerous mental health benefits. Research shows that people who volunteer tend to be more social, and they also enjoy a greater sense of community. These benefits of giving back to a good cause can be pivotal for healing from any difficult experience, including death.

Research on volunteering also shows that regularly giving back is associated with enhanced mental well-being. These results are specifically focused on mood improvement and a reduction in anxiety and depression, and the rates are more pronounced for people aged 65 and older.

Build Peer Support

It’s normal to feel sad or want to spend time alone during the grieving process, but isolation can be a real risk. Disconnecting from loved ones can exacerbate feelings of depression and loneliness.

Many volunteer roles are inherently social, and dedicated volunteers often find immense connections by spending time with one another. In fact, research shows that people who regularly volunteer tend to have higher levels of self-esteem, and they also generally report a greater sense of fulfillment in everyday life.

Strengthen Your Physical Well-Being

Research shows that volunteering coincides with numerous health benefits, including lower stress levels, and a stronger immune system. Subsequently, people who volunteer may also experience a reduction in high blood pressure and chronic pain symptoms.

Guidelines for Volunteering

The first and most important takeaway is to remember that there isn’t a right way to volunteer. Some people get involved with a local non-profit organization whereas others prefer a national community service.

Here are some guidelines you might want to consider:

Ask if a friend or family member would like to join you: If volunteering feels daunting, ask someone you know if they’d be willing to attend an event with you. Keep in mind that volunteering can be a great way for individuals and families to connect with one another.

Start with a reasonable commitment: Don’t overwhelm or overextend yourself right now. That could lead you to feeling burnt out. Consider dedicating just 1-2 hours every other week or a morning once per month to start.

Consider your current skills and passions: You’re more likely to stick with volunteering if you resonate with the organization’s mission. For example, if you love children, you might want to consider reading at the local library. If you enjoy animals, look into opportunities at shelters.

Grief Therapy and Grief Support in Austin, TX

It’s important to try to take care of yourself during your grief journey, as challenging as that might be. The right volunteer experience can provide support, and it may also offer a safe space for you to connect with other people committed to doing their part to improving the world.

That said, grief can still be tumultuous and difficult to endure. You don’t need to be alone during this time. Both support groups and grief therapy can give you the guidance you need to manage your emotions. Together, we can review healthy ways to cope with your pain. No matter who or what you’re grieving (or how long ago the loss occurred), I am here to help.

I welcome you to contact me today to learn more about my therapy process and availability.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 988-3363

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